It seems like there is a curse against talented Carolina Panthers linebackers, because Thomas Davis and Jon Beason have suffered countless major injuries in their careers. Davis came back to health last season against all odds and rewarded the Panthers faith in him with an excellent season, but Beason didn’t have it so well and was once again lost for the season.
Set to make $5.25 million after only playing in five games in 2012, the Charlotte Observer lists Beason as a potential cap casualty this offseason. Although I’ve heard quite a few Panthers fans on Twitter say that they think the Panthers should release Beason, it might not be the best idea for the team’s overall salary cap health.
While the Panthers have the second-worst salary cap situation in the league behind only the New York Jets, cutting Jon Beason would only make things worse. He has $12 million in guaranteed money, so releasing him would actually cost the Panthers more. The only time teams release players with that much guaranteed money is if they either A) Suck really badly or, the most likely reason, B) They are cancers to the team.
Beason is, quite clearly, neither of these. Even though he has struggled to stay healthy, he’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL when healthy even if he has issues in pass coverage. Luke Kuechly is firmly entrenched in the middle linebacker spot after moving into his natural “Mike” position following Beason’s injury, but Beason is versatile enough to play on the outside.
The linebacker situation is crowded, but Beason is still the Pats third-best LB behind Kuechly and Davis. I think he brings more of an edge on run defense than James Anderson, even if Anderson has more playmaking ability. I value consistency, and I’m sure most people would agree that Beason is the better player.
Because the Panthers are stocked at linebacker and have so little cap space, I would normally be in favor of making the tough business decision and letting Beason go. However, this decision would actually be bad for business given the amount of guaranteed money Beason will be getting. It’s not prudent to release Beason at this moment in time, and he can still be a viable starter for the Panthers and a leader on defense who can continue to help Kuechly grow and flourish as a mentor. I still want to see Beason taking snaps on defense for the Carolina Panthers, especially since it doesn’t make much sense to release him from a business perspective either.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.